3 Day Startup NYC: New companies for 5 teams of students, wisdom for all

Sam Hysell is a Fordham Class of 2014 student studying Business Economics and Sociology fascinated by the potential business has to positively impact society. He is very passionate about helping others find their passion and make it happen and writes about the subject regularly at www.getserious.me.

Three days.
Five scalable tech startups.
One vision.

40 students from throughout New York City came together in downtown Manhattan for 3 Day Startup, a rapid-fire program for new technology businesses that accelerates from the idea stage on Friday to full-fledged product demos and company pitches on Sunday. Whether a participant was a graphic designer, software developer or business student, each had a passion for creativity and entrepreneurship.

Student participants pitched their ideas on Friday night and the top five were chosen by the votes of the participants. They spent Saturday developing the ideas and doing potential customer interviews throughout the Financial District. This is called customer development: the purpose was to validate and invalidate business ideas by addressing the problems their customers experienced. By understanding customer’s problems, the young entrepreneurs were able to better develop a solution. The event ended on Sunday night, when all five teams pitched their fleshed-out ideas to a panel of investors and other entrepreneurs.

Dan Sperling puts it in a nutshell: “Here I was, in an office in the Financial District, with altruistic mentors, advisors and a structured plan on how to guide us through the process of starting these companies.”

One idea emerged from participant Brandon Long’s, personal experience. Brandon’s concept The Halo Net “uses web and mobile technologies to offer social support to people grappling with personal challenges.” Brandon said he saw friends falling into bad habits such as anorexia and alcoholism, and he realized they had no action plan for overcoming their struggles. As a socially conscious entrepreneur, he set out to resolve that—and, over the course of the weekend, he came up with The Halo Net.

Thanks to teammates and mentors who helped with critiques and development, student participants made more progress on their business ideas in three days than many had in months.

3 Day Startup has three core features that any professional can apply in their own development.

  1. Getting help from mentors. Sean O’Connor said that “by having experienced mentors check in with us throughout the event, we were able to refine the scope of our venture much more quickly than we otherwise would have.” Everybody loves to be looked up to. Use this to your advantage and learn from your predecessors who may soon become mentors.
  2. Surrounding yourself with passion. Bringing together so many like-minded people, both students and professionals, created an energy that is rare and special. Surround yourself with people who are already where you want to be in five years. Their passion and expertise will help force you to learn and adapt.
  3. Utilizing established processes. Professionals in every industry feel as if they are often going into uncharted territory, yet chances are there is somebody who has done it before. The keys to their process can be easily applied to your own journey. “Emulating” sounds like a bad thing, but 3-Day startup participants learned that taking an idea already on the market and making it better can yield great rewards. The iPhone, for example, wasn’t the first smartphone, but it pulled together the best aspects of all other smartphones into one.

Students who participated in 3 Day Startup found it to be an awesome experience. Even people not interested in starting their own business can benefit from its principles: learn from mentors, seek out others with passion, and stop hating and start emulating!

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